Going Home (Theme of the Local Hero)

Trigger warning: this post contains discussion of suicide.

A half-dozen friends and I went to see the movie, Local Hero in 1983. They all hated it. I loved it. All the characters had such magnificent and unique personalities and the story was wonderful, playful and touching. I won’t give it away if you haven’t seen it, but really recommend seeing it. Next to Contact, it’s my favourite film. It’s funny, moving, and quirky. The lead character, played by a youthful Peter Reigert, goes through a metamorphosis as he learns to embrace the lifestyle of the charming residents of and visitors to the western Scottish village where he finds himself on assignment, far removed from his fax and Telex machines and other such early-80s business technology. A phone box at the roadside near the beach is a frequent scene in the film.

Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits (see my post on January 12, 2020 for their song, “Sultans of Swing”) wrote the music for the David Puttman-produced movie, and he and members of Dire Straits were among the musicians playing on the soundtrack.

The song and film are, to me, life-affirming. It seemed a natural choice for me to watch the movie one evening in the late 80s, surrounded by comfort food and drink, after attending the funeral of a friend and colleague who had died by suicide, survived by a wife, and daughter under two years old. 

He never gave any hint that I could see that anything was wrong; he was somewhat unhappy in his job as some of us young fellows were, often passed over for promotion out of the clerical ranks we both worked in though at the same time, frequently relied on for higher-level roles. A common experience. Even when I visited him at his acreage outside Winnipeg, he took great pride in his lovely little daughter and in the hundreds of trees he’d planted. I just never knew.

I still remember that evening, as the final shot of the phone box faded, I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed.

It’s likely not always possible to know when people are suffering to the extent my friend was, if they hide their inner selves from the outside world. And even more so in today’s world of “chronically disconnecting connectedness,” it’s really important for us to check in with people whom we know are going through tough times, even when we feel that to ask if they’re okay is silly or inappropriate. It’s not. Ask.

“Going Home” is an instrumental piece. Founded on a synthesizer line, it starts as a soft, slow, electric guitar melody signalling the ending of the film. It is touching and emotive. Like I said, life-affirming… though a song alone can’t do that. It’s the humanity and vulnerability that a song touches that’s important.

I’ve since watched the film many times, and always enjoy it like I did the first time in the theatre. It’s the kind of movie I like to see again, as I’m drawn back to the characters and the optimistic mood the film helps create. The song visits about as frequently. I’m due for another spin of the DVD… my “to-rewatch” pile is getting higher!

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please, participate today in #BellLetsTalk — Bell says that this year it will donate five cents for “every applicable text, call, tweet, social media video view and use of our Facebook frame or Snapchat filter.” Use #BellLetsTalk. 

But more importantly, check in with someone whom you think is having a hard time. I know I will be doing that. And, if you or someone you know is in crisis, call 911 immediately to get help.

On another note, today is the birthday of one of my brothers… he happens to love soundtracks, so this one’s for him, with love.

Here’s the official video from Mark Knopfler’s YouTube channel:

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